If there is one new home trend that is here to stay, it’s the inclusion of outdoor living space.
That’s the consensus a group of industry experts highlighted at the 2017 NAHB International Builders Show panel discussion, “60 Design Ideas in 60 Minutes.”
To these builders, designers and developers, it’s not so much a matter of whether or not to include outdoor living space, but rather, how to maximize outdoor living opportunities regardless of home size, style or location and how to create outdoor rooms that reflect individual homebuyers’ tastes.
Here are five takeaway expert insights that we couldn’t help but want to share with you, as you look for ways to create an outdoor living area that is uniquely yours.
Here are ways to personalize your outdoor living space.
The trend that all of the panelists agreed on was the continued blending of indoor and outdoor living. Using the same or similar materials both inside and outside the home and adding large sliding doors and big windows can all help make the transition from inside to outside seamless.
Recent years have seen an increase in the use of natural materials inside the home and, to no one’s surprise, that trend has moved outdoors. Large swaths of concrete are out. Instead, natural stone, wood and even recycled glass are in. To keep the emphasis on natural stone and wood decks, nearly invisible wire railings are being used to create the illusion of a larger, more open area, unmarred by harsh lines and edges.
The Outdoor Kitchen
If outdoor dining is your thing, you’ll want to look into creating an alfresco kitchen. The idea behind these outdoor food prep and eating areas is to eliminate the need to run into the house to make or eat a meal. Today’s outdoor kitchens have sinks, pizza ovens, ice makers, bars, dishware, utensils, trash bins and more, making them true outdoor rooms, not just places to eat the meal after it has been prepared inside.
Use the Roof
Several of the panelists discussed the trend of turning the rooftop into an outdoor living space. Ideas ranged from entertainment areas overlooking the pool and patio to private spaces located off master bedrooms to family-friendly zones that serve as a gathering place for friends and family to relax with a nice glass of wine.
John Thatch of the Dahlin Group, a California architecture and planning firm, says it best: “Possibilities don’t end at the walls. Think of the roof. It can be used as a living room, an outdoor room, anything.”
Advancing the trend of maximizing existing space is incorporating vertical features into exterior design, particularly for those homeowners without a big yard. Smaller, narrow-lot cottages or row homes, townhomes and even duplexes can capitalize on their existing outdoor space by —working upward. Trellises, climbing plants, hanging baskets, wall décor — anything that draws the eye up is fair game.
As Steve James, a community designer from Boulder, Colo., explains, “Garden courtyards have been the rage. Now, the big ticket item is a private outdoor room. We have been moving toward vertical density. How do we get the outdoor room feel in these areas of high density? The key is to go up.”
Creative Use of Color
Color blocking or the use of two or three contrasting blocks of color to create bold focal points is another great way to enhance the look and feel of an outdoor area. It’s very effective at breaking up dull exteriors and works well to liven up outdated siding or other home exteriors. In addition to using paint on features like accent walls, color can come in the form of potted plants, hanging artwork, screens or trellises, bright patio furniture or even curtains that serve as a backdrop for more muted patio sets.
“We’re seeing a real, intentional use of color, not just in homes, but in neighborhoods and entire communities,” notes Rick Overby, owner of Stella Color + Design in Denver, Colo.
Steve James, a community designer from Boulder, Colo., agrees: “We’re having fabulous times with color. It’s fun and it’s a way to bring urban touches to suburban areas.”
Authenticity and Character
Over and over, the panelists agreed that designs and trends should reflect the character of the home. Homeowners want their homes to be authentic and true to their design, but also to have character. When applied outdoors, authenticity and character can be achieved through landscaping and hardscaping and by choosing outdoor furnishings that are in line with the character or style of the home — this goes back to that seamless blending of indoor and outdoor function and design.
New Outdoor Fabrics
One thing we love about all of this interest in bringing the indoors out is the products geared specifically for that desire. Today’s outdoor fabrics are fade-resistant, waterproof and available in colors that range from bold and beautiful to artistic and understated. It’s easier than ever to carry your home’s interior design theme outdoors — and leave it there year-round.
Take Tech Outdoors
Wi-Fi and cellular use coupled with advances in media entertainment and mobile devices have made tech more accessible outside the home than ever. Outdoor home theatres are certainly an option, but you can also play music and games and connect with friends remotely all from the comfort of your pool or lounge chair. Best of all, Wi-Fi means you won’t need to rewire the house to bring high-tech entertainment outside. Solar-powered speakers and lighting can enhance the experience and won’t require a remodel to do so.
A Place for Everyone
Your outdoor living space can’t be truly yours unless it works for everyone in the household. When designing or redesigning a space, it’s important to consider how your family will use it. Do you need active play space? Room for the dog? A kitchen garden? Consider the short- and long-term needs of the household and undertake a design that accommodates those needs. It’s much less about fitting in to a certain neighborhood look and more about fitting your family into the space.
As Eric Brown of Artisan Homes Realty in Paradise Valley, Ariz., says, “Push yourself to do something different. Get with experts and see what else you can do.”
Do you find these insights inspiring? Let us know your favorite tips in the comments below.
In the design world, consensus is hard to find, because creativity tends to be so subjective.
But the panel discussion “60 Design Ideas in 60 Minutes” at the 2017 NAHB International Builders Show was evidence that exterior design is having a moment: industry leaders from diverse backgrounds agree on the fundamentals of shaping an outdoor living environment.
Sarah Kinbar is a writer and editor with a passion for design and images. She was the editor of Garden Design magazine, curating coverage of residential gardens around the globe. As the editor of American Photo, Kinbar worked with photographers of every genre to create a magazine that told the story of the photographer’s journey.
She has been writing about architecture, landscape design and new-home construction for NewHomeSource since 2012. During that time, she founded Kinship Design Marketing, a boutique agency that provides content for website redesigns, blogs, inbound marketing campaigns and eNewsletters.